The US' favorite puzzle-solving dog Blue is getting together with Hello Kitty, Japan's most famous cat, in a partnership announced yesterday.
Toys, clothes and stationery decorated with the floppy-eared blue canine and the bubble-headed mouthless white kitten will arrive in stores here in spring next year, under a licensing deal between Sanrio Co of Japan and US licensing business Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP), the companies said in a statement.
Under the deal, NVCP has granted Sanrio the master license for the character that won fame as the star of Blue's Clues, a US educational animation series.
NVCP president Leigh Anne Brodsky said yesterday's deal was the first time her company has joined one of its icons with a counterpart from another company.
"It's a very exciting idea to have this creative collaboration, kind of East meets West, dog meets cat," she said in a telephone interview during a trip to Tokyo to announce the partnership.
Creators from both sides will work together on products targeting young Japanese women, which may be later exported to the rest of Asia, and perhaps to Europe and the US, she said.
Although tying together mascot characters isn't without its risks, the artistic styles of Blue's Clues and Hello Kitty blend well because Blue's creator was influenced by Hello Kitty, Brodsky said.
"Hello Kitty was a tremendous inspiration in the creation of Blue's Clues and has been one of my favorite characters since childhood," Blue co-creator Traci Johnson said.
Blue's Clues has ranked continuously among the top five preschool commercial TV series in the US over the last decade. It has generated US$3.6 billion in retail sales since 1998, and sold more than 35 million books.
Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio in 1974, adorns everything from diamond-studded jewelry, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunchboxes, T-shirts and stationery.
Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Mariah Carey have been spotted with Hello Kitty gear.